I was talking with a ship owner about using azipods on a new cargo vessel. He was terrified that the crew would not accept anything new. I am never one to push for trying ew things just because they are fancy. But ship owners constantly ask for more efficiency and performance. At the same time, ship owners reisit change, claiming that crew will not accept new changes.
So I ask professional mariners. Is this true? Is it simply a matter of mariners requiring training in new technology? Or is there truly a fear of all new technology? I can understand skepticism, but the ship owners make it sound like crews outright reject any change. Where does this belief come from?
what about you? What was one time when you had to adjust to new technology onboard ship? Was it good or bad in the end? What could help make it easier to adjust to new technology?
Crews adapt and use whatever equipment is on board. It is the owners that decide what is there. Given the capital intensity involved in owning and operating ships there is a natural reluctance to be the first to embrace new technologies. Once proven, there is a lot of desire to be the second to try it out.
The generally speaking the instances where I have seen crews reluctant to do something involved using software that was viewed as more work than what they were doing before.
Crews pumping bilge water over the side versus using the OWS systems is another matter all together.
I think it’s too simplistic to say that owners or mariners, collectively, are resistant/not resistant to new technology. Yes, in general and in the broadest sense, almost all people are resistant to change in most areas of life, most of the time. But there are many different levels of acceptance or resistance from person to person, and it often changes over time (read: as people age).
Having said that, relevant hands-on training with the equipment or systems you are going to be using, preferably on-site, and BEFORE you have to use it in actual operations, goes a long way towards giving us usable knowledge and confidence with the new gear, which goes an equally long way towards overcoming resistance to change.
Speaking as a tugboater, the typical way of doing it here in America is to simply install it aboard and leave the crew to figure it out on their own. While this may appeal to management as a quick-and-cheap way of going about it, it’s highly irresponsible and also leaves a company wide open to higher liability if something should go wrong connected to the operation of said equipment. Navigation and communications equipment for the wheelhouse, and control systems and OWS for the engineers, come immediately to mind.
There have been training failures worldwide connected to ECDIS that have resulted in groundings and other mishaps. They could have been avoided easily.
I’ll also point out that a lot of the changes in the more mature technologies actually make them worse over time. They eventually get “improved” to the point of being unusable.
[QUOTE=nickninevah;186901]I was talking with a ship owner about using azipods on a new cargo vessel. He was terrified that the crew would not accept anything new. [/QUOTE]
Call me cynical but that sounds like a load of horsepucky.
If the owner and his design firm decide there are commercial advantages to selecting azimuthing drive over another alternative, that is how the ship will be built and the crew will be trained in its operation and maintenance. Period.
[QUOTE=Steamer;186922]Call me cynical but that sounds like a load of horsepucky.
If the owner and his design firm decide there are commercial advantages to selecting azimuthing drive over another alternative, that is how the ship will be built and the crew will be trained in its operation and maintenance. Period.[/QUOTE]
Bingo. My guess is nickninevah is a bit naive or generally new to the game and doesnt realize that is what a office guy might say to an unsolicited proposal from a consultant and they are sort of giving the brush off to or what he might say if he himself (office guy) is “afraid” of the technology. “Fear of new technology” as he puts it is not something i find to be a trait of merchant seamen.
Fair assessment. I have not had much on the water time or working on the owner’s side of things. (Although it was a solicited proposal.) The so far, it seems the general feedback is that crew are willing to accept new technology, provided they get training on it. I completely understand and expect that. I even understand that the “office guy” for the ship owner might be concerned about the business risks of new technology. The part I never understood was blaming the crew. And yes, I have had owners sit in meetings and tell me that they want the ship to go faster, burn less fuel, but use the [I]exact [/I]same technology as every other ship, or “the crew won’t accept it.”
Part of being a good consultant is recognizing those concerns and talking your client around if it is truly worth the debate. But before I try doing that with future clients, I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t missing something. Because if I design a ship, I do consider the crew. I will admit, sometimes the crew take 2nd priority to the owner. But I do always try to understand what crew want.
Heck, one of the best pieces of advice I ever got from crew: Always try to install satellite internet good enough for Skype.
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Sorry to hear about management just dropping in equipment with no training. That sucks.
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I’ll also point out that a lot of the changes in the more mature technologies actually make them worse over time. They eventually get “improved” to the point of being unusable.[/QUOTE]
Really? I haven’t heard about that. How does it get unusable? Too many safety devices? Or do things break faster do to “improvements”?
[QUOTE=nickninevah;186930]… I have had owners sit in meetings and tell me that they want the ship to go faster, burn less fuel, but use the [I]exact [/I]same technology as every other ship, or “the crew won’t accept it.” [/QUOTE]
I have spent most of a career at sea and have never seen anyone not "accept) new technology. There was always, and I mean always, some new piece of high tech control or monitoring equipment being fitted along with the latest displays or superduper pipe fitting technology and since the people who sold and/or installed it had to work with and around the people who were expected to use it, the end user got a good introduction to the care and feeding. Most people were very positive about any technology that made their job easier or safer.
I am now one of those guys selling and installing a superduper new high tech sytem in the engine room and I have yet to have anyone comment that they are even hesitant about “accepting” it.
If the ship is a newbuild, the senior officers will be hired and in place early enough that they will be experienced with the new stuff by the time the ship sails. The junior folks will just accept it as part of the deal.
I think you have been fed a minor load of crap. The only thing the crew won’t accept is smaller quarters, bad food, noise, vibration, reduced manning, more work, less recreational opportunity, or faster turnarounds. They express their non-acceptance by leaving at the first opportunity. Most could care less what is attached to the end of a drive shaft.
Happens all the time. “Here’s your new radar, See yah later!”
Back when equipment was simpler and (this is very important) the pace of technological advancement/change was slower, that wasn’t an enormous problem. These days it can be. You may come back to your tug after your time off to find new equipment that you must begin using immediately, with no time to acclimate, let alone any training. Right on watch you go, in navigation, as you fumble around trying to learn the new piece of gear.
Perhaps the bachelor-degreed people from the academies with the unlimited licenses are wide open and fully accepting of all change, but in the limited-tonnage world of tugs and OSV’s it can take a while for people to come around. Not always, but often enough that you can notice a difference.
Geography can make a difference, too. The West Coast readily adopted tractor tugs long before the East and Gulf Coasts did.
As for usability, anytime I hear “new and improved” I cringe. Much of the time the “improvements” are mostly just hype to sell new “product.” With all the electronics interfacing complications I’ve seen I prefer less of it and more stand-alone gear that is not prone to cascading systems-failure. Another joy is finding important functions without their own control knob/button/key, buried in some sub-sub-menu when you need it.
When you increase complexity you may also be increasing the likelihood of a failure or inducing a human-error event. More thought should be given to that idea. Fly-by-wire technology was supposed to stop imperfect humans from crashing perfectly good planes for no reason. It didn’t really work out that way.
I’d say the shipboard mariner tends to resist change. Old is safe, routine, tested and its risks are known. People loose their jobs when things go wrong, much less when things go the same as before. An oil spill or collision caused by a new piece of equipment or procedure will get people fired.
I take it you deal mostly with office people. Office people are generally safe from shipboard incidents so they only see the benefits of new equipment. If the thing works they look good, if the thing fails someone else looses their job.
[QUOTE=captjacksparrow;186933]Fly-by-wire technology was supposed to stop imperfect humans from crashing perfectly good planes for no reason. It didn’t really work out that way.[/QUOTE]
Considering the accident rate before FBW was double that of today and Boeing, Airbus, and virtually every high performance military jet uses FBW (because no human could ever get one past the end of the runway by hand flying) I think few would agree that it did not work out that way.
How big of a cargo ship are we talking about here nicknineveh? How much cargo space does the ship owner expect to add with this type of arrangement? Is the ship owner looking to save on fuel consumption? Less tug boat assistant? What type of azipod propulsion is the ship owner considering using? You will still need generator sets, main switchboards, propulsion transformers, and frequency converters.
[QUOTE=Tups;186938]Just curious, but why did you propose Azipods for a cargo ship?[/QUOTE]
It’s all because this ship has some very odd cargo requirements. We are looking at a situation where the cargo handling equipment may have a larger power demand than main propulsion. Because of that we plan to use diesel electric and avoid having auxiliary engines that are bigger than the mains.
This cargo also drives the ship’s hull to be wide with a narrow draft. Underwater, it will look more like a deck barge. So our client really is concerned about getting a good hull shape and making it efficient.
Now we come to the electric motors. When we put the motors low in the hull, we needed to bulge out the hull so that we could make room for the motors. With motors internal, our hull design would be driven by the motors, not a need for efficiency.
If we go with azipods, that completely frees the hull from motor space requirements. That gives me the freedom to shape the hull how I want it for efficiency.
It is all still in debate. Our draft restrictions may prevent us from using azipods. Or we may use Z-drives to attach the electric motors higher up. Plenty of possible tradeoffs that we will look at when we get into the design. But usually it all starts with any requirements the owner places on us (good or bad).
I once new an owner that specified engines, gearbox and propeller purely because they already had those in their spares storage. But those three pieces did not play nice together. They created a torsional vibration on the drive shaft. Almost shook the poor tug to pieces. That was a bad day.
[QUOTE=DeepSeaDiver;186948]How big of a cargo ship are we talking about here nicknineveh? How much cargo space does the ship owner expect to add with this type of arrangement? Is the ship owner looking to save on fuel consumption? Less tug boat assistant? What type of azipod propulsion is the ship owner considering using? You will still need generator sets, main switchboards, propulsion transformers, and frequency converters.[/QUOTE]
Fair point. And true that all of those will take an efficiency loss. This arrangement wasn’t driven by cargo space. The cargo is actually what made a requirement for diesel-electric propulsion. Power demands for unloading equipment will likely be higher than propulsion. The main issue is fitting in the electric motors. If we put them down low, that restricts how I can shape the stern of the vessel. And the owner really wants a sleek, efficient hull. I am also considering other ways around the motor size. Z-drives, offset gears. But it gets hard to consider those trade-offs when the owner outright refuses something.
But, that is also part of what makes the job interesting. Working with all the different people.
You’re entitled to your opinion, but I think you’re substituting correlation for causation.
Many factors affect the accident rates, so implying that the reduction in the accident rate since the introduction of fly-by-wire technology is attributable to fly-by-wire technology is a weak argument.
It’s true that, starting in the '70’s with the F-16, all modern fighters have used fly-by-wire systems. But that was for reasons completely unrelated to civil aviation safety, as you apparently well know. The planes are amazingly maneuverable but essentially not practically flyable by humans without the flight computers. Apples and oranges.
As it relates to safety improvements in civil aviation, fly-by-wire has definitely reduced the number of incidents where improper flight control inputs over-stress the airframe and cause a failure of some sort, or cause an aerodynamic stall, but it has also steadily bred less capable pilots and led to other problems that offset the gains, much to the dismay of its progenitor. It has not stopped pilots from crashing planes by making mistakes, which was the goal.
Has there been a net safety gain? Maybe or maybe not. It’s probably not possible to isolate all the variables to the point that it could be definitively proved or dis-proved to everyone’s satisfaction either way, but the presumption that it is all gain and no pain is, in my opinion, false.
All I’m saying is that there was and are costs as well as benefits for this or any other technological advancement, and that the costs are typically not fairly accounted for, well understood, or even acknowledged.
Just because a given technology “advances” doesn’t make it better per se. Just because it becomes widely adopted doesn’t validate it. And just because, in your opinion, “few would agree” with me doesn’t mean I care.
You’re right. Fairly normal technology. That was what surprised me about the owner’s reaction. They were scared because it has never been used on this type of ship before. One of the earlier posters said it best: Nobody wants to be first, but everyone wants to be second.
[QUOTE=nickninevah;186959] They were scared because it has never been used on this type of ship before.[/QUOTE]
So you see the ship owner was scared not the crew! At least not as far as you know. I still don’t think I would say crew acceptance of new technology is a “thing”. Crews want things to be well engineered with regard to machinery arrangement and maintenance access, reliability. Don’t skip the parts of the manual that discuss required maintenance clearances around machinery, ease of use, or power requirements (V, ph, Hz) and think “it should be all right”. Your instincts to work around an owners reluctance for new ideas is a good one but do not accept that crews are unwilling to accept new technology (whatever you think that is). That’s just the owner begging off. They need good reasons like return of investment, total life cycle cost, etc. Give them good reasons.
As to your specific situation… if you are trying to solve an in port cargo handling power requirement by proposing azipods (a solution that may create draft / port entry problems esp since you say the unit will have shallow draft) that seems a bit extreme.
How about a medium speed geared diesel plant with clutches on the non-drive and of the mains to clutch in a cargo gear generators? Same engine two uses. In port declutch mains from RG and clucth into cargo gear gens. You can have a separate swbd for cargo gear and still keep reasonably sized SSDG sets for hotel loads.
We had a similar set up on a seismic ship I worked on that clutched in to the survey source air compressors. There there were father-son engines (8 and 6 cylinder) on two RG sets. For transit all 4 clucthed in to gear boxes and CPP. For surveying (slow speed) two fathers on shafts and two sons on the compressors.